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The Life Changing Benefits of Reading

I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm. However, the benefits of reading didn’t really hit me until university. I went to a relatively average university. Although I enjoyed the new experience of college, I often found my courses intellectually dead. Classes I thought I would like ended up being dull. Tutorials were taught by TA’s who were less than enthused to teach. Classmates often wanted to get by with their assignments and tests than to really learn something.

Early on, I decided I would not let my schooling be the determinate of my education. Instead, I set out to learn from the best minds in the worlds, and made it a goal to read good books. I decided to read 52 books over the course of a year, one for each week. Although I fell short of that goal, I ended up reading a total of 42 books that year, many of which introduced me to new ideas and changed my world views. I still try to average a dozen or so books a year.

For instance, reading Richard Dawkin’s The Selfish Gene inspired and taught me more about evolution than any of my biology classes. My classes in physics became way more interesting after reading Richard Feynman’s adventures on learning and being inquisitive. For psychology, I “enrolled” myself in a Harvard course on Happiness. Due to my premed scheduling, I was unable to take any economics courses, but through extracurricular reading, I’ve gained at least a basic understanding of how market forces work.

Reading good books changed the way I thought about the world more than my university courses did. Well written books are often the results of years of research and experiences. They are much richer in content and thought out than blog posts or news articles. If you haven’t gotten into the habit of reading outside of the classroom, I would recommend you start right away!

I have created a books section on this website with a list of  books that I have personally read and recommend. I’ll be sure to add to the list and write reviews whenever possible. Although medical school can be quite busy and there is a lot of medical reading that needs to be done, I still try to find time for leisure reading.

With the holidays coming up, try to find time during your break to read something outside of academics. It might just be the best thing you could do for your education.


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  1. S.A.B.
    S.A.B. December 22, 2011

    Wow, I’m amazed that you read even 40+ books a year. Like you, I appreciated the benefits of reading near the end of high school. Books can really ‘educate’ a person much differently (and many times more effectively) than a classroom or lab. For me I also love reading autobiographies in addition to some of the sections you posted on the blog. However, often during school, after spending hours reading from a textbook and then hours writing a lab report or a paper, the last thing I want to do is to read (during the breaks it’s much easier to read books).

    I also liked your point about how reading books differs from reading blogs or articles. To that, I would also say that listening to podcasts (like Documentaries by BBC) is a great way to go deeper into a topic, more so than reading a newspaper piece. Btw, you should definitely check out Documentaries by BBC, I’m sure you’d like them a lot.

    • medaholic
      medaholic December 23, 2011

      @S.A.B – Some of my favorite books are biographies and autobiographies. I love reading about how others came to find their passions in life, or what keeps them up at night. Some of them like Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography are such a great way to peer into the one of the greatest minds that ever existed.

      I’ll try to check out the BBC documentaries when I have some time, I enjoyed Planet Earth tremendously.

  2. Cerena
    Cerena January 3, 2012

    Thank you for all of the book suggestions 🙂 I am also a pretty big reader, so let me suggest one to you.
    “The Night Shift” by Dr Brian Goldman (from white coat, black art).

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